DfE publishes list of mandatory qualifications for learners without grade C or above in GCSE English and maths

The Department for Education (DfE) has published a list of English and maths qualifications that providers must choose from as a “condition of funding” for 16 to 18-year-old learners that do not already have at least grade C in English or maths.

The list of 245 eligible qualifications — part of the Study Programme implementation — includes 115 at entry level, 53 at level one, 24 at levels one and two and 53 atjust level two. Of these, 150 are for English, 89 are for maths and six are available in both subjects.

In total, 17 GCSEs are listed, run by AQA, OCR, Pearson and WJEC. The majority of those remaining — 130 — are Functional Skills qualifications, delivered by awarding organisations (AOs) including Pearson, OCR, NOCN, NCFE and City & Guilds.

Meanwhile there are 76 English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) qualifications on the list, awarded by AOs including Ascentis, Cambridge English and Trinity College London. Further non-GCSE qualifications include six Prince’s Trust QCF qualifications, which are each listed as both English and maths despite being in employment, teamwork and community.

It comes as providers prepare for a new rule which means learners without at least a C-grade GCSE in English and maths will have to achieve the qualification, or an equivalent such as Functional Skills. In 2011/12, 40 per cent (249,164) of the GCSE cohort failed to achieve A*-C in English and maths.

There will be further change in 2015/16 with learners who achieve a grade D at GCSE not having the option of taking an equivalent qualification as they try to achieve the C-grade or above. The government recently announced it was bringing forward the rule which had been expected in 2017.

A government guidance paper on the subject says: “In August 2013, the government introduced 16 to 19 study programmes following Professor Alison Wolf’s review of vocational education. A core principle of study programmes is that any student who has not achieved grade A* to C in maths and/or English GCSE, by age 16, must continue to work towards achieving these qualifications. This will become a condition of funding from August 2014.

“This means that all students on study programmes, including 19 to 25 year olds with a statement of Special Educational Need (SEN), a Learning Difficulty Assessment (LDA) or Education and Healthcare Plan (EHCP) when available, who do not have a GCSE grade A* to C in maths and English, are required to continue to work towards achieving these qualifications by studying for a GCSE or approved ‘stepping stone’ qualification as part of their study programme.

“Where a student without a grade C GCSE is not studying GCSE or an approved ‘stepping stone’ qualification, then that student is removed from future funding allocations. There will be very few students that are exempt from this requirement, but those that may be include students holding an equivalent qualification from overseas, and some students with a learning disability that prevents them from studying for any of the ‘stepping stone’ qualifications.

“Those students who have attained a grade D GCSE in maths and/or English should retake the GCSE, and from August 2015, this requirement will become part of the condition of funding for full time students. This will mean that to qualify for funding, all full time students with GCSE grade D must be enrolled for a GCSE maths or English qualification.”